Sunday, March 26, 2017

Carrot Chips or Carrot Wafers

This is a dehydrator recipe and I'm not certain if it can be done in the oven.

Equipment needed:
Vita-Mix with the dry container or Food Processor, Vegetable Peeler, Cutting Board, Knife, 1 cup Measuring Cup, 1/4 tsp Measuring Spoon, 1 tbl Measuring Spoon, and Dehydrator

1 cup coconut water
2 tbls chia seeds
4 carrots
1/4 tsp salt

Peel, rinse, and chop carrots into ~1" pieces - just to make them easier to blend. Put those in the Vita-Mix dry container. Add the coconut water, chia seeds, and salt. Blend very well.

I actually started with the coconut water and chia seeds, then added the carrots one at a time, blending in between each, to be sure of the number I wanted to put in there. When the blending became harder to do and the mixture was somewhat thick, I stopped adding carrots.

Because I wasn't sure how this would turn out, I did the next step two different ways.

1. Pour mixture into rectangular candy molds, filling each between 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to the top. Once done dehydrating, these will be fairly thin. Shake gently to settle into flat shapes. This "filled" 24 molds.

2. Pour remaining mixture in the middle of a pendaflex/silicone sheet that fits your dehydrator. Spread out towards the edges, then shake gently to settle into flat shape. You may need to nudge it back a little from the edge. This created a semi-square 13"x13" shape.

Dehydrate at 125 degrees for about 10 hours. If you don't sleep through the middle of this time, you can try flipping them halfway through to get the color roughly the same on each side. I made these at night and pulled them as is in the morning.

If you're a raw purist, drop the temperature to 105 degrees or less and dehydrate longer.

The first way made rectangular chips about 1/8" thick. Some broke in two coming out of the mold. Some had holes in the middle. It's entirely possible that filling the molds to the top would have prevented that, but the chips would also be a bit thicker.

The second made a beautiful, very thin wafer (with some holes.) Interestingly, my wife who prefers crackers liked the chips, and I - the cupcake monster - preferred the wafer. It reminded me very strongly of the Italian pizelles our downstairs neighbor used to make starting at 4 in the morning. Ah the culinary memories...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dog Food - Renal Care, Not Vegetarian

We tried a new renal diet for our eldest dog and the results were underwhelming. His blood work showed no improvement, and he needed his anal glands expressed for the first time in his 14+ years of life. That renal diet contained so much rice - it was listed as dry weight so the actual amount in the food once it was cooked was even more. We've gotten his stool back to normal and hopefully that means his glands will be fine.

He's on lamb, and we found out that boiling lamb removes some of the phosphorous. The old thinking was lower the protein. The new thinking is get a better balance between calcium and phosphorous and maybe lower the protein.

Disclaimer: We're not veterinarians nor nutritionists. We also have not had him on this diet long enough to see how well it does for his kidneys. I'll report back once we get there.

We start with the Honest Kitchen Preference base. For 1 day of food for a roughly 15 pound dog, we add 6 oz of boiling water to 1.8 ounces of HK Preference. Allow that to absorb the water for at least 3 minutes. Add 2.5 ounces of the boiled lamb (more on that below). We feed him 3-4 times a day, 2 main meals and 1-2 snacks. He was having some issues with his stomach being too empty prior to getting breakfast, so he definitely gets a snack right before bed.

For the 2 main meals, he also gets 1/4 tsp psyllium, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salmon oil, and 1/4 pill of InflamAway HA which is a glucosamine/chondroitin with extra anti-inflammatory herbs.

For the boiled lamb, we get 2 pounds of ground lamb from the grocery store. That's roughly a 1 week supply of meat for him.

Take a small stock pot and fill it halfway with water. Roll the lamb into meatballs about 1/2" to 3/4" in diameter. They will shrink some. Put them in the water one at a time. Having the water in the pot will help them not stick together. Bring the water to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to break up what forms on top and unstick any meatballs at the bottom. Lower heat as needed to maintain the rolling boil without boiling over. Boil for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse.

He likes this well enough though he has trained us to add some treat sprinkles on top sometimes. Once he gets started, he finishes his meal.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coconut Milk

Trying to find a substitute milk with no sulfites, no carrageenan, no xantham gum, etc can be difficult. And that brought me to the following:

Vita-Mix Coconut Milk recipe


Coconut Milk recipe that's similar but involves a little cooking

Making this in the Vita-Mix will heat it up - it only takes 2 minutes on high to get warm and this recipe calls for 3 minutes.

I used unsweetened coconut flakes from Let's Do... Organic since they contain no sulfites. Also used a fine mesh strainer and sifted the mixture with a spoon to get the liquid through. The leftover pulp has no flavor to speak of. Whether or not that gets used is a recipe for another day.

If you prefer your milk sweet, you can add pitted dates or sugar of your choice.

This will have a slightly thicker texture than the store variety. The aroma and flavor are excellent.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Variations on a Theme - Ice Cream-ish

I woke up thinking about raspberry, dark chocolate mini-ice cream cakes. But, and that's a big but, what did we actually have in the house? No fresh raspberries. Only one banana and it was ripe - not banana bread worthy. Some frozen fruits. And dark chocolate chips - Yes!

Popped the banana and an 8 oz bag of frozen cherries into the Vita-Mix dry container and blended that until smooth. Blending speed was on the low side - I never got to the halfway mark. This mixture required tamping. This should be easily accomplished in a food processor. If the cherries still had some chunks, I think that would add nicely to the texture.

Gave this a taste - great flavor, sorbet consistency. It would probably make a nice sorbet on its own. Avocado is another good base to play with later for sorbet recipes.

Scraped it into a bowl and stirred that with 1 cup chocolate chips and 2 cups almond meal. Spooned into 24 mini muffin cups. There was a bit leftover - which I ate because this raw dough is one you can safely consume.

They're currently in the dehydrator at 125 degrees and will be there for many hours before I can flip them, pop them out of the molds and keep dehydrating for many more hours. Time from start to dehydrator - about 10 minutes.

Other flavors I want to play with:
Apples and cinnamon - with a banana, applesauce base and chunks of apple, or maybe avocado instead of banana.
Raspberries and dark chocolate - fresh fruit rather than frozen, though frozen has the advantage of hanging around longer and therefore being more readily available when the whim strikes.
Blueberries and spinach - yep, sneaking in vegetables for this one.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Banana-Blueberry Pan-Muffins

The last of our bananas hit "banana bread" stage, so something had to be done with them. I'd read recipes in the past (on FB somewhere) using banana as the basis for pancakes. And so...

Equipment needed:
Medium or Large Bowl, Spoon, 1 cup Measuring cup, Mini-Muffin Molds, Dehydrator (or maybe Oven)

4 small, overly ripe Bananas
2 cups Flour (I used Almond Meal)
6 oz Blueberries (I used fresh)

Peel the bananas and put them in the bowl. Mash them with the spoon. Add flour and mix well. Carefully stir in the blueberries.

Spoon into the mini-muffin molds and tamp carefully. This will be wet and sticky. Fills ~28 molds.

Place the filled molds on the dehydrator rack, set the temperature to 125 degrees, and go about your business - take a nap, read a book, etc. - for about 6 hours.

The plan is to get the top of these muffins dry enough to flip them out of the muffin molds. It might take 8-10 hours given how wet this is. I flipped them at 5 hours because it was time to sleep, and I wanted them out of the molds for the longer part of the dehydrating process. However they were wet enough that they came out a little misshapen and stuck to the rack a bit when I checked them in the morning. I flipped them again so the wetter side was up.

Dehydrate another 10 hours or so (overnight is the best time for me to do this.) Place in the fridge to get a chewier texture.

I love how the blueberries pop in my mouth when eating these. A really nice burst of flavor.

There are certain things in my kitchen that I love to work with and a dehydrator is one of those. I've made dog treats in the cheaper circle-shaped ones previously. To use one of those for these recipes, either get silicone molds that the size and shape fits in them, or the dough can be spread out on the silicone sheets that fit inside the dehydrator. There are silicone ice cube molds that may be okay for baking. Some have really cool shapes too. Candy molds are good to check for this as well.

What's in my kitchen is a 9 rack, square Excalibur dehydrator. It's on the pricey side (like my beloved Vita-Mix). There are smaller, cheaper, square or rectangular dehydrators out there as well.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Pasta Salad Dressing

I made a bunch of quinoa pasta and some Bacon-ish Bits this weekend, and my wonderful wife cut up carrots, zucchini, and celery. The pasta got a coating of pesto to help it not clump together (which it still does but not quite as badly) before going into the fridge.

Throwing together all of these great ingredients called out for a creamier topping to make it a more cohesive pasta salad. It helps that our two avocados were showing signs of "eat me now!"

Equipment needed:
1 Large Bowl, 1 Spoon or Fork, 1 Cutting Board, 1 Knife, 1/4 cup Measuring Cup

2 Avocados
1 Lemon ice cube (previously squeezed and frozen in ice cube trays)
1/4 cup (or less) Pesto (we get dairy-free pesto - read below for other ideas and a nut-free option)
Salt to taste

Cut and peel the avocados, put those in the bowl. Add pesto and lemon cube. Stir until creamy and lemon cube has melted. You may want to add the pesto in stages to achieve the desired consistency. Salt as needed, or add whatever spices take your fancy.

The amount of pesto will change both the texture and the taste. This can also be used as a salad dressing with you controlling the consistency.

If you don't have a dairy-free pesto available, you can make your own, or add what's missing to the above individually.

So, say you decide you want a spinach pesto to go with your avocado for a pasta salad dressing. I recommend using a blender and putting in:

Avocado, spinach, onion, garlic, pepper, pine nuts or walnuts (optional), lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. The other main ingredient is olive oil. Since the avocado could take the place of an oil, you can add olive oil as needed for texture. Optionally or in addition to, you can add vinegar for some tang in your dressing. (Future recipe posted here? Quite possibly)

Monday, March 6, 2017

IHTMoTI Cookies

I have too many of these ingredients, so I think I should do something with them: Filberts (Hazelnuts), and Dates.

I need a liquid for the base. In the fridge is a half full bottle of (flat) Ginger Brew which is a spiced ginger ale with actual ginger in the ingredient list. There's just over a cup left and that goes into the Vita-Mix (liquid container as the dry container was just used to make nut meat and is soaking in the sink.)

Add 1 cup filberts, step back, look at it sideways, add a second cup of filberts. Blend. The Vita-Mix handles that fairly well, so another cup of filberts goes in (3 cups total). Blend, tamp, blend, tamp. Okay, a little too many nuts for the amount of liquid in the wet container. But it looks blended enough.

Put that mix into a large bowl. There are some whole filberts, but I'm moving on with them as is.

Pit and add dates. I added five to previous recipes, but I'm feeling sugar-generous: six dates, pitted, spread apart, and dumped into the bowl - making sure the pits go in the trash and the dates go in the bowl. Easier to screw up than one might think.

These would be better blended in the Vita-Mix, but that's not an option at this point. Probably would work well in a food processor, but I haven't used it yet and don't want to figure it out tonight. I try a spoon and get some pieces of the dates mixed in. Giving up, I dig a hand in and squeezed the mixture through my fingers over, and over, and over.

There's a half package of mini-dark-chocolate chips in the fridge, so those go in next. The mixture is looser than I would like for something that needs to bind together. I toss some chia seeds on top (without measuring - about 2 tablespoons) and stir everything together.

Technically the chia seeds need time to gel and become a binder. Since I'm putting these in the dehydrator, I think they'll have enough time to bind without going in the fridge. Fill mini-muffin molds and tamp down hard to compress the dough into shape. This filled about 44 molds. While spooning, I noticed there are some larger pieces of dates as well as the whole filberts. Should make some of these interesting to eat.

Dehydrating at 125 degrees for about 6 hours - long enough for them to form a bit of a dry crust on top and hold together when a sample is popped out of the mold (and eaten, of course.) Then flip the mold over and pop them out directly onto the rack. Continue dehydrating another 9-10 hours.

These turned out really, really good.

And that's a look into my cooking/creating process. Combining whatever's handy and seeing what happens has been my style all my life. It's the main reason my parents decided against getting me a chemistry set. They were (rightly) concerned I might blow up the house.

1 cup Ginger Brew
3 cups Filberts
6 Dates
2 tbls Chia Seeds
1/2 pkg Mini-Chocolate Chips